Disappearing Legacy: The Struggle of Turkey's Greek Orthodox Community

The Holy and Great Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

Imagine a vibrant community of over 1.4 million people dwindling to a mere 1,500, mostly elderly. This is the harsh reality facing the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey. Decades of systematic pressure, discrimination, and violence have pushed this historic group to the brink of extinction.

A Story of Decline:

The decline began with the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. This forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey uprooted a large portion of the Greek Orthodox community. However, the story doesn't end there.

Successive Turkish governments continued to exert pressure, both open and covert, on the remaining Greeks. Violence, forced labour, seizure of assets, and restrictions on professions became their reality. This relentless pressure forced many to flee the country.

The targeting went even further. Measures like the Varlık Vergisi wealth tax and the conscription of non-Muslim men for labour projects specifically hindered the economic and educational opportunities of the Greek Orthodox.

The tragic 1955 Istanbul riots served as another major blow. Fueled by rumours of an attack on Turkey's founding father's birthplace in Greece, these riots resulted in more expulsions and violence directed against the Greek Orthodox.

The Remaining Struggles:

While some confiscated properties have been returned, the core issue – the dwindling population – remains. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, the global leader of Orthodox Christians, faces ongoing challenges:

  • Limited Recognition: Turkey refuses to acknowledge the Patriarchate's worldwide authority and restricts its activities.
  • Nationalist Pressure: Nationalist and neo-nationalist groups actively target the Patriarchate and the remaining Greek Orthodox through lawsuits, disinformation campaigns, and even threats of violence.

An Uncertain Future:

The political landscape in Turkey, particularly the alliance between the government and nationalist groups, offers little hope for an easing of pressure. The proposal to allow younger generations from the expatriated community to return offers a potential lifeline, but Turkey has yet to embrace it

Read More (Abdullah Bozkurt/Stockholm, nordicmonitor.com).

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